Adjectives describe nouns, so instead of saying the man we can say the tall intelligent Spanish man.
Adjectives are probably one of the most exciting things in English. They make our language more rich and interesting, and help us to describe the world around us in more detail.
Normally in English the adjective is before the noun.
They live in a modern house
Have you ever met any famous people?
Note that in English adjectives only have one form and we never pluralise our adjectives. They are the same if we are describing a singular or plural noun.
We can also use adjectives after verbs, be, get, become, seem, feel, look, smell, and sound. For example;
The book became very boring
His girlfriend seems happy
You look quite tired
Your kitchen smells amazing!
But remember that even though the adjective is coming after the verb, we are always describing the subject of the sentence, and not the verb.
When we use more than one adjective we need to put them in the correct order. Native speakers do this without even thinking, but it takes practice.
The first rule is that we put opinion before fact adjectives. Opinions are our personal views, and facts are truths.
The second rule is that when we use more than one adjective to describe something we put them in a specific order.
Note that we do not use and between adjectives, except with colours;
A short red skirt (not a short and red skirt)
A white and red skirt (not a white red skirt)
Unfortunately is it very difficult to memorise the order, and not everyone agrees about the rules either! The best way to learn is by listening and reading English as much as possible.
-ING AND -ED ENDINGS
A lot of English adjectives end in either -ing and -ed. For example;
The difference is that the -ing adjective is the cause of the -ed adjective. Or you could also say the -ed adjective is the result of the -ing adjective. For example;
My class is boring, so I am bored (The class makes me bored)
I am boring, so my class is bored (I make the class bored)
Now you are ready for the activities! Let's go!
GRADABLE AND NON-GRADABLE ADJECTIVES
If an adjective is gradable it means it can be used with grading adverbs like very to describe the degree of the adjective, for example;
They were extremely angry
It was slightly busy
Non-gradable adjectives cannot be used in this way because it is only possible to have one degree of them, but we can use a non-grading adverb instead, for example;
It was totally unknown (not very unknown)
The job is almost impossible (not very impossible)
Some adjectives are both gradable and non-gradable, mainly when they are homonyms. This means that they are spelt and pronounced the same, but have different meanings, for example;
My dog is very old (aged)
I saw an old friend yesterday (from the past)
NOUN/VERB + Y = ADJECTIVE
A little trick that English speakers use all the time is to transform a noun or verb into an adjective by adding a Y. For example;
salt - salty
fruit - fruity
sun - sunny
But they can also be ridiculous inventions, such as:
yellow - yellowy
spanish - spanishy
hate - hatey
These are very informal adjectives, but can be very useful to describe things that don't have formal adjective in English. For example, how could you say that your favourite new band sounds a bit like Queen?
That new band is very Queeny
Sometimes a single adjective can consist of more than one word joined with hyphens, for example;
A Spanish-speaking country
He is 25-year-old man
They are well-known artists
There are some rare cases in English where we use the adjective after the noun. This is called a post-positive adjective. There are two reasons for this;
When it is a set phrase
When the adjective describes a temporary rather than permanent state
In the first case, we have a lot of set phrases, some of which have been borrowed from other languages, for example;
persona non grata
In the second case, we may need to put the adjective after the noun to avoid confusion. For example;
I'm looking for the responsible nurse
I'm looking for the nurse responsible
In the first example the person is looking for the nurse that has a responsable character, a permanent and inherent characteristic of that nurse. In the second example the person is looking for the nurse responsible for a specific action, which is not a permanent characteristic of that person.